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  • 3

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America's Trail System Needs Help

A campaign by Sustainable Trails Coalition

  • $137,180
    of $124,850
  • 1038
109 %
This campaign receives all funds raised. Any funds raised above the goal will make it even better!
This campaign is now closed.
America's Trail System Needs Help
Currently, outdated policies are restricting proper maintenance of America’s national trails system and preventing various types of human-powered access to public lands, notably Wilderness areas and National Scenic Trails.

The result is less interest in outdoor activities, less connection with Wilderness areas, and a reduced passion for protecting and preserving America’s wild places. 

Well-intended yet flawed Federal policies are responsible for much of this. 

We want a more balanced approach and aim to fix outdated policies that are contributing to degradation of our national trails and blocking access for too many Americans.


Outdated rules are restricting proper maintenance of our national trails system and preventing various types of human-powered access to our public lands, notably our Wilderness areas and National Scenic Trails. These restrictions reduce public support for conservation and put our public lands at risk of irrelevance, development, and motorized mass tourism.

Trail Maintenance Problems

Under current rules, federal land managers cannot use modern tools as basic as a wheelbarrow to maintain Wilderness area trails. As a result, it's costly and incredibly time consuming to maintain our Wilderness area trails and they have deteriorated. Compound this with the heavy use that selected trails receive, and outdated legislation is preventing these highly trafficked areas from being properly repaired and maintained – this creates a safety issue for all visitors and can lead to environmental problems.

Currently, The Pacific Crest Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, and similar majestic trails in our nation's Wilderness areas are in serious disrepair. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the U.S. Forest Service can maintain only about 25 percent of its trail mileage. This is a problem for all visitors. We need a more balanced and modern approach so that federal land managers and volunteers can use current tools to maintain our trails for everyone’s benefit and safety.

Needless Access Restrictions 

Outdated rules are keeping a variety of human-powered travelers from visiting and accessing some of our most stunning public lands, notably Wilderness areas and National Scenic Trails. These restrictions reduce public support for conservation and put our public lands at needless risk of irrelevance, development, and motorized mass tourism. We need good stewards of our land to protect and preserve it. Updating old rules to allow different types of human-powered access will engage more like-minded conservations and benefit everyone who wants to preserve America’s wild places.


Our aim is to update existing legislation and give federal land managers more flexibility with how they manage and maintain trails in 762 Wilderness areas. 

Current policies were written more than 50 years ago when the total U.S. population was two thirds of what it is today and total protected acreage was one tenth of what it is today. The world has changed and with increased flexibility in our policies, land managers can properly maintain trails and increase involvement with the trail system. This is a win-win situation for everyone.

Congress can fix these problems, but our solution needs to be heard and now is the time.

Your contributions will be used to hire a team of expert DC lobbyists from Fabiani & Company, with more than 50 years of collective experience on Capitol Hill, to work with Congress and address these problems with a focus on updating current legislation.


You can help by making a contribution on this page.

Our goal is to raise at least $124,850 to cover the costs for a full year of lobbying on Capitol Hill. We have received incredible support so far. In our first month of fundraising, we raised over $43,000, which will cover the first four months of work in DC!

To support a full year of effort, which is what we need to effectively lobby Congress, we need your continued support. You can make a contribution of any amount by clicking “Contribute Now” in the upper right-hand corner of this page. You can also select any of the boxes on the right-hand side of this page to make a contribution.

Your contribution will go a long way to help!

Please note that every member of our Sustainable Trails Coalition team is a volunteer. None of us are being paid. 100% of our time is volunteered. Our website fees and legal fees are donated and our operating costs are donated. All of the money you contribute, less any applicable credit card fees (3%), will go toward our DC lobbying efforts.


1) Repair of the Pacific Crest Trail and Continental Divide Trail so people can hike, bicycle, or ride horses over a well-maintained route;

2) Providing land managers with the ability to use modern and efficient tools so they can maintain our trail system at a lower cost;

3) Restoring Congress's initial intent for human-powered travelers of diverse kinds to be allowed to explore and access our public lands;

4) Providing outfitters with sustainable trails so they can safely and reliably access public lands;

5) Giving equestrians trails that minimize environmental impact and allow them to share trails safely with others;

6) Giving your children a future in which they can see the outdoors in person and under their own power, whether on foot, horse, bicycle, or pedal-powered kayak;

7) Increasing interest in our trail network, and increasing volunteerism to help maintain our national trail system.


Who is part of the Sustainable Trails Coalition?
The Sustainable Trails Coalition is a Colorado incorporated non-profit consisting of conservationists and outdoor enthusiasts. Our Team includes Ted Stroll (author of Congress's Intent in Banning Mechanical Transport in the Wilderness Act of 1964), Jackson Ratcliffe, David Simon, Jeff Barker, and Jane Ragan. We all love the outdoors and cherish Wilderness areas.

How did you choose the lobbying firm?
We chose Fabiani & Company because of their expertise and more than 50 years of collective experience on Capitol Hill.

Who are your supporters and contributors?
We all typically share a love the outdoors and participation in the world outdoors, through a variety of human-powered activities, including hiking, backpacking, cycling, skiing, horseback riding, and more. We all share a common desire to experience the outdoors and protect and preserve our Wilderness areas and other natural landscapes for generations to come.

Is my contribution tax-deductible?
No. We are a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization and not a 501(c)(3) organization, so your contribution is not tax-deductible. Registering as a 501(c)(4) gave us more flexibility to lobby on behalf of you and our contributors. This differentiates us from what other groups have tried to do in the past.

Can you guarantee success?
There is never a guarantee of success, but our lobbyists have more than 50 years of collective experience on both sides of the political aisle and they have a proven track record of getting these kinds of initiatives done.

How do I know that you will not misappropriate my money?
Some of us would stand to lose our professional licenses if we absconded with any donor money and we’d be disgraced in our communities. Like you, we care deeply about this and we want our efforts to succeed. We are not paid employees, 100% of our time is volunteered. Our website fees and legal fees are donated and our operating costs are donated. All of the money you contribute, less any applicable credit card fees (3%), will go directly to our DC lobbying efforts.

Still have questions?
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Thank you. We are deeply grateful for your support.